“And that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved,” Wade continued, referring to the gender identity of their child, who was assigned male at birth, as Wade clarified for unaware audience members. She now uses feminine pronouns and goes by the name Zaya.
One day, Wade recalled, his child “came home and said, ‘Hey, call me Zaya, and I’m ready to take on this.' I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. You are a leader, and it’s our opportunity to allow you to be a voice.’ Right now, it’s through us because she’s 12 years old. But eventually it will be through her.”
After Zaya came out to her parents, Wade said, Union reached out to seek guidance from actors who appear on “Pose,” an FX series about 1980s ballroom culture that has been celebrated for its inclusive cast. It made history a few years ago for assembling the largest cast of transgender actors to ever hold regular roles in a scripted series. The Wades are also public supporters of the advocacy organization GLSEN, which works to end bullying and discrimination against LGBTQ students nationwide.
Wade and Union are also parents to Zaire, 18; Xavier, 6; and Kaavia, 1. (The three oldest children are Wade’s from previous relationships.) They have defended Zaya online, such as this past Thanksgiving, when Union posted a photo in which Zaya is seen wearing a crop top and long nails. Wade tweeted days later that he had seen “hate on social about my family photo.”
“Stupidity is apart of this world we live in,” he wrote. “But here’s the thing — I’ve been chosen to lead my family not y’all. So we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love & a smile!”
Wade expressed a similar sentiment in April, when he uploaded a photo of Zaya and Union at the Miami Beach Pride march to his Instagram story with the caption, “We support each other with Pride!” The post prompted an outpouring of praise online for, as one Twitter user put it, their “unconditional love” of Zaya. Speaking about the march to Variety magazine, Wade later stated that he is “uneasy about the accolades that come from supporting my kids or the negativity that comes from it.”
“This is my job as a father,” he said. “I’m doing what every parent has to do. Once you bring kids into this world, you become unselfish. It’s my job to be their role model, to be their voice in my kids’ lives, to let them know you can conquer the world. So, go and be your amazing self and we’re going to sit back and just love you.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Union joined the conversation by tweeting a video of Wade and Zaya discussing the importance of being “true to yourself.” In the video — which Union captioned, “Meet Zaya. She’s compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her” — Zaya wondered, “What’s the point of being on this earth if you’re going to try to be someone you’re not?”
Wade posed a question in response: “Even when people are being mean, and even when people are getting hurt because they’re trying to be themselves?"
“Yeah,” Zaya responded. “Even through hard times, you gotta just push through. It’s worth it. It’s very worth it, when you reach that point of yourself, where you can look in the mirror and say hi to yourself. Nice to meet you.”